Assets mapping is a strategy for "asset-based
community development" (Kretzman and McKnight, 1993). Historically, the approach
has been to focus on a community’s needs, deficiencies and problems. By comparison,
Assets Mapping focuses on a community’s capacities and assets. The CHIS seeks
to combine the two approaches into a single strategy that links needs to community
Capacity-focused Assets Mapping
emphasizes the development of policies and activities based on the capacities,
skills and assets of people and their neighborhoods. Historical evidence
indicates that community development takes place only when local community people
are committed to investing themselves and their resources in the effort. Furthermore,
in a time of budget constraint and a re-thinking of the appropriateness of federal
initiatives, the prospect for outside assistance is waning.
Mapping is based on the recognition of a unique combination of assets that exists
in each community. The combination has three components: individuals, associations,
and institutions. An inventory of the gifts, skills and capacities of the community
residents is undertaken. Capacity mapmakers identify within neighborhoods a vast
array of individual talents and productive skills, few of which are being mobilized
for community-building purposes. Secondly, an inventory of citizens’ associations
is compiled. These associations, less formal and much less dependent upon paid
staff than are formal institutions, are the vehicles through which citizens have
historically assembled to solve community problems, or to share common interests
and activities. An inventory is done of the more formal institutions which are
located in the community. Private businesses; public institutions such as schools,
libraries, parks, police and fire stations; nonprofit institutions such as hospitals
and social service agencies—these organizations make up the most visible and formal
part of a community’s fabric. A diagram of a Community Assets Map may be viewed here
(Kretzmann and McKnight, 1993:7).
process of Assets Mapping can be defined by three interrelated characteristics:
- The community development strategy begins with what is present
in the community, the capacities of its residents and workers, the associational
and institutional base of the area.
- Because the development
process is asset-based, it is "internally focused." The development strategy concentrates
first of all upon the agenda building and problem-solving capacities of local
residents, local associations and local institutions. The internal focus stresses
the primacy of local definition, investment, creativity, hope and control.
- The process is "relationship driven." Asset-based community
development constantly builds and rebuilds the relationships between and among
local residents, local associations and local institutions.
goal of the Community Health Information System is to provide communities and
individuals with a geographically oriented database of community assets. Elsewhere
in the CHIS we provide indicators and data for measuring the health status of
community populations. The Assets Mapping component of the CHIS should provide
not only a method for constructing networks to address community health needs
but also a mechanism for understanding community well-being.
Reference: JP Kretzman and JL McKnight, Building
Communities from the Inside Out: A Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing a Community’s
Assets, ACTA Publications, Chicago, 1993.